City Government

Hanneman Looks Toward Minnesota

Deputy Chief Dave Hanneman of the BFD is one of three finalists for the job of fire chief in Rochester, Minnesota, home of the Mayo Clinic.
The GUARDIAN was contacted directly by a Rochester cop assigned to do the backgrounder on Hanneman. The big question from Rochester was, “what was the problem with Hanneman that he couldn’t make the grade over an inexperienced captain–Dennis Doan–who got hired last week as chief?”

The brief answer is POLITICAL PAYBACK. Doan is well wired with Team Dave and since he worked on the Dave Bieter mayor campaign he got the nod. He is a strong union guy and will–or has–appointed another former union president who was a captain to a deputy chief post.

With retirements and reassignments, it looks like the entire command and management staff of the Boise FD with a $34 million annual budget will soon be from the ranks and without any prior management or major command experience. By our count, only 6 top members of the department are not union members.

We have talked to a bunch of insiders and insiders who talked to inside insiders and it was clear that Bieter wanted Doan period. He reportedly declined advice that it would be prudent to move Doan and others up a few ranks and groom him for the top slot.

Councilor Maryanne Jordan was quoted by other media saying former chief Renn Ross was also captain when he was appointed chief. That is not true. Ross was a deputy chief at the time of his appointment.

We were told there were NO EDUCATIONAL or professional requirements for the job and no one has revealed details of a background investigation–if any was conducted.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. It has been my pleasure to know Dave Hanneman and I wish him well in Minnesota, should he get the job, and acknowledge it will be a loss for Boise if he leaves.

  2. Councilwoman Jordan’s statement should come as no surprise to anyone. She has never shown the tendancy to worry about the truth when she has spoken in the past. Why should she start now?
    Sadly, I feel that some very good senior members of the BFD will be retiring earlier than planned, or headed off to greener pastures. But, alas, if chief Doan accomplishes nothing more than getting rid of ACEMS and folding it into the BFD, he will have been worth it.

  3. Joe Cleveland
    Feb 19, 2008, 8:03 pm

    “The GUARDIAN wishes Doan all the best in the new endeavor.” This was posted on Feb.8. Wow it took you a whole eleven days to prove that false. Your statement that the entire command and management staff will be from the ranks is true, but this is nothing new. Let take a look at whom former Chief Ross (who I assume you thought was fine Chief) promoted.

    1. Deputy Chief of Operations- a captain who also was the former president of the union.
    2. Deputy Chief of Special Operations- a captain
    3. Division Chief of Training- a captain
    4. Fire Marshal- a captain
    I sense a theme here, but wait by your innuendo’s that means Chief Ross didn’t have a clue and the BFD must be falling on hard times. I mean all these captains got promoted around the same time and what happened? Oh wait thats right Boise Fire has become one of the best departments in the west and has one of the best training departments in the country.

    Your statement of only 6 of the top members of the dept. are not union members is true because there are only 6 top spots. If you add the Fire Chief and Deputy Chief of Logistics to the four above you have the top positions of the dept. Those people are what you might of heard of as management Dave. The rest of the line, fire prevention, and maintenance personel are union. This has been the same for 30 years or longer so don’t try to make it seem like it is something new.

    I feel you were fed information Dave but not the whole truth of it all.

    SFF Joe Cleveland
    Boise Fire Sta. 22

    EDITOR NOTE–Joe, still wish Doan all the best. It is in the best interests of every citizen to have a good solid BFD. My problem remains with the mayor’s office. In any outfit with lots of personalities and $34 million you need some old wood that is seasoned. Between those leaving and the new ones coming up, it is my opinion that no one was “groomed” for the job. Time will tell. Meanwhile, from the heart we want it to work for whoever is chief.

  4. My personal feelings regarding the new ( or old, depending on how long you have been around) direction that BFD is taking aside, I have known Dave many years. He had something that set him apart from many of his coworkers, and appreciation for EMS, and what it takes to make a quality EMS provider and system.

    Through his role in auditing the county wide emergency medical dispatch system, his private and BFD related EMS education enterprises, his participation in public access defibrillation projects, and incident command training across multiple agencies, he was truly concerned with EMS in the fire service, (not what EMS could do for the fire service), and EMS in general. His efforts go back decades, to the old Joint Powers Agreements, specialty teams, and cohabitation in stations when that wasn’t an eye rolling topic.

    It was this that led to his “fall from grace” and his lateral promotion/demotion when the Union began to make its moves a few years ago (about the time Beiter came into full swing? Have to check the calender).

    Its a shame that he isn’t in the top position at BFD. Even when there was disagreement, most of the rank and file knew he was a collaborative type of guy. He wasn’t a blunderbuss, full of political self serving sound bites, he was genuinely interesting in improving BFD and agencies it worked with….including the BPD, ACSO, and even…god forbid….ACEMS.

    Boise, and Ada County, and even ACEMS are going to miss his efforts.
    Any place that gets him will be lucky.

  5. We need to be clear, Ren Ross was only a Firefighter aka hoseman (bottom of the rank structure) when he chose to go into the prevention dept. He was given the rank of Captian of Prevention and rose from there. He never was a captain on an engine company. I think he was a great Chief and did the Department very well. Don’t down play the importance of being a Captain on the line and running an engine company. Please can we give all the new people in charge a chance before we dog pile on them or is that not fun enough.

  6. Dave, while I can understand your concern about the way Chief Doan has gotten his job, I think the “insiders” to whom you are talking to have an axe to grind. A very large majority of the members of the fire department are excited to have Dennis at the helm. There is an air of expectation that as a department we have a bright future ahead for us. While change for an organization can sometimes be traumatic and difficult, this is one time where it was needed, and is looked forward to by the members of the department. The citizens of Boise can be assured that when they dial 911 needing the fire department, a professionally trained and competent crew will show up and do everything they can to solve whatever problem the citizen has.

    EDITOR NOTE–Amen. We tried repeatedly to get some changes in the past and were ignored at every level from council, candidates, to chief. We’ll see what happens this round.

  7. Renn Ross was acting chief of the BFD for many,many months before he was confirmed as chief. Had he not done well as acting chief, he would not have been confirmed.

    Also MK, is it possible that many in the department are excited about Dennis Doan because they are all union members and he just was a union member therefore they figure he’ll be more amenable to their demands at bargaining time?

  8. It’s too bad the “good ol boy” mentality still exsists in the Mayor’s office. You be my campaign manager and one day I will make you Fire Chief.

    Mayor Bieter sends out a clear message to the citizens of Boise that, it’s not how hard you work but who you know that will get you success. Hanneman was clearly the more qualified person to lead Boise’s Fire Dept. It’s a shame that Bieter’s personal agenda got in the way. We wish you well Dave Hanneman, Thank you for the many years of devoted service to our city and state.

  9. Although this does appear to be just more political payback/business as usual at city hall this time they didn’t waste a bunch of your money looking all over and then hiring some self proclaimed big gun from back east or cali.

    That practice has become all too common with state and local positions. I used to almost gag watching Hollywood Dirk croon about buying Idaho all the while he was condoning nation wide searches for malcontent out of state “talent” to fill our highly paid supervisory positions.

    Speaking of political paybacks, have any of you watched or given thought to the various Army and Air National Guards Adjutant Generals we have had over the years? Usually they are chosen from the on hand one stars or full colonels but a number of years ago (and quite legally at that) Nevada’s gov reached way down to a light colonel from the BACK seat of an F4.

    The annual budgets, troops, facilities and weapons systems they oversee would boggle the uninformed. But then again, THOSE leaders are subject to numerous, thorough and sometimes vindictive audits and inspections.

    I wish your new Fire Chief nothing but good. Maybe they saved enough money that they can afford to hire another recycled talking head to speak for him.

  10. I’ve known Dave Hanneman for many years, he has devoted the last 25 years of his life serving the citizens of Boise, starting as a volunteer firefighter working his way through the ranks clear up to Deputy Fire Chief. He has excelled in every thing he attempts. While raising a family, holding down a job with BFD, he still found time to attend BSU to get the degree’s neccessary to become the next Fire Chief. His accomplishments are too numerous to list. He did everything right to position himself to become Boise’s next Fire Chief. He didn’t count on running head on into a crooked Mayor. Bieter has a reputation around the city as a very dishonest person, and his true colors are showing in this situation. He lacks integrity and violates the public’s trust. In my opinion Dave Hanneman, you are better off not working for a person with his dishonest tactics. Boise – We need to get an honest mayor who doesn’t speak out of the side of his mouth, say one thing and do another.

  11. Sara, the short answer is NO. It isn’t about any percieved advantage during contract negotiations. It is about a willingness to include those that are on the line a stake in the day to day operations of the fire department. It is about getting some past due and very much needed changes done. It is about a forging of a new labor and management relationship based on open communications and trust, rather than one based on hostility and secrecy. That is why the firefighters are excited. They understand that they will be given tools to perform their job better for the citizens of Boise.

  12. So Sara, that was a YES, in case you missed the underlying answer to your question.

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